What you need to know about Friday's $540 million Mega Millions drawing

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Thursday, July 7, 2016
Image of person filling out lottery ticket
In this July 1, 2016. file photo, Sara Thompson picks numbers for the Mega Millions lottery at a convenience store in Chicago.

The Mega Millions jackpot has grown to an estimated $540 million after no top prize-winning tickets were sold for the drawing on July 5. That makes the jackpot for the drawing on Friday, July 8 would be the third largest Mega Millions jackpot ever and the seventh largest in U.S. history if won.

"The excitement is palpable as this is the largest American lottery jackpot since the world record $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in January," said Paula Otto, Executive Director of the Virginia Lottery and Lead Director for the Mega Millions group.

If you're going to partake in the lottery fun this Friday, here's what you need to know when trying to win that $540 million:

How to play/odds:

The price of a Mega Millions ticket starts at $1, with players trying to match their numbers to the six numbers selected in the drawing. The odds of winning any prize is 1 in 14.7, and the odds of winning the jackpot are a whopping 1 in 258,890,850. You have better odds of getting struck by lightning.

Past lottery jackpot winners

Still, despite those seemingly insurmountable odds of winning millions, people have been able to win some massive lottery jackpots over the years, with three lucky winners recently splitting the record-setting $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016. The person who purchased the winning ticket for that jackpot in California still hasn't claimed their prize.

Meet the lucky winners of the largest lottery jackpots in U.S. history

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1. $1.586 billion (Powerball) Won Jan. 13, 2016. Winning tickets sold in California, Florida and Tennessee.
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

What to spend your money on

If you do end up winning Friday's jackpot, here is some inspiration for some of the lavish and exotic items you could spend your money on. Your $540 million could buy almost 34 private islands off the coast of Dubai or 135 million 4-for-4 combos from Wendy's.

What to do before and after you win

Most importantly, when playing the lottery, you should do so safely and responsibly. Make sure to sign the back of your tickets, take proper precautions before joining lottery pools and choose a trustworthy wealth management team if you end up winning. And if you know someone who might be playing the lottery irresponsibly, call 1-800-522-4700 or visit the National Council on Problem Gambling website to learn how you or a loved one can receive help.